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March 27, 2012

Flashback: Obama Thought He "Checked the Box" On The Economy With the Stimulus and So Moved On

Lazy.

“I recently talked to a very senior friend of mine in the White House, and I said, ‘How did we not spend a year talking about the economy?’ ” a Democratic think-tank maven recalls. “And he said, ‘Look, I think Barack did the stimulus and he thought he checked the box and he moved on.’ I said, ‘That’s not governing, dude. That’s some other thing.’”

Check the box? That reminds me of a similar disclosure.

Are you impressed with the image of Obama-at-work left by Ryan Lizza’s “Obama Memos” piece in the New Yorker? The President’s decision-making method–at least as described in the piece–seems to consist mainly of checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him. … They offer him four stimulus packages, none bigger than $890 billion. He does not ask for more but does push for an “inspiring ‘moon shot’” initiative. At first it’s a “national ‘smart grid’”–hard not to get inspired just hearing those words! When aides explain that this isn’t stimulating enough, he settles for “high-speed trains.” … He’s presented with a list of $60 billion in cuts to his core stimulus policies, and writes “OK.” … He “authorize[s] his staff” to plan a likely-to-be-useless “bipartisan ‘fiscal summit,’” asks “what are the takeaways”” is told he could “ask .. for continued dialogue,” and doesn’t write “this is all BS” and cancel the summit, which in fact proves useless. … He asks, “Have we looked at any of the other GOP recommendations (e.g. Paul Ryan’s) to see if any make sense” instead of, I dunno, looking at them himself.

Finally, he’s presented with a classic three-box-con memo–two extreme boxes (big new jobs package, big new deficit package) and a safer middle box (“smaller, more symbolic” deficit efforts), a matrix clearly designed to get him to choose the middle option. He chooses the middle option.

I’m sure Obama is smarter than this. He can’t be an executive who spends his days checking boxes, accepting the choices presented by his aides, never reaching outside them through unconventional channels or reaching unconventional thinkers, never throwing over the framework with which he is presented.

I'm not so sure.


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posted by Ace at 06:24 PM

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